Outdoor learning is a very important part of the life of the school and our school garden is a focal point for this. Gardening Club takes place each term, with two sessions per week in the summer. We grow vegetables, fruit and flowers and produce is shared between club members or used during cooking sessions by classes throughout the school. Club members learn all aspects of gardening skills such as sowing seeds, potting on, weeding, digging, pruning and looking after the wildlife pond. They grow in confidence over the years – becoming team leaders to train the younger children in Upper Key Stage 2. All members of the school take part in the RHS Big Schools’ Bird Watch each January, and we organise litter picking around the grounds on a regular basis. Pond dipping takes place throughout the year as part of science lessons and children find all sorts of creatures such as common newts and dragonfly nymphs. We have also recently started working with a local company to make apple juice, using apples from the school garden and donated by members of the school community.
Our garden is where we grow and nurture many of the plants for our RHS Spring Festival School Show Garden. Planting begins in the summer for the show the following year and older children take full responsibility for watering the precious specimens over the months.
In 2017 we were awarded Best School Garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival for our entry ‘Cradley’s Garden on Mars’. The creation of the show garden engages children in many valuable learning experiences and develops their skills across the curriculum. Each class takes responsibility for one aspect of the garden, for example programming a robot or learning about pollinators. Our Nursery children grow our sunflowers. Every child designs a garden and our Garden Design Club then combines ideas they have seen to finalise a plan. Every member of Key Stage 2 attends the Three Counties Showground either to help build the garden or talk to judges or members of the public. Younger children are encouraged to attend at the weekend. It is always amazing to see the confidence children develop as they share their knowledge of the garden with members of the public, the press or gardening personalities! The whole project generates enormous enthusiasm across the whole school community.
After the Spring Festival we rebuild a smaller version of our Show Garden back at school and share some of the plants with the local community. Members of Gardening Club plant flower beds at The Leys retirement bungalows and Cradley Church.
We are very proud to have achieved the RHS 5 Star Gardening Award and Heart of England in Bloom Schools Gold as a result of our ongoing work in the school.